Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Discover the highlights of our May upgrade

Usability has been at the forefront of this upgrade. As part of our commitment to making the platform even quicker and easier to use, we’ve significantly cut down the time it takes to configure and make changes to your system. For end users, we’ve continued our priority focus on improving user experience on both desktop and mobile devices.

User Experience

Enhanced Settings pages

With system administrators in mind, we’ve enhanced navigation on the ‘Settings’ pages so that choices are clearer and it’s easier to find exactly what you’re looking for.

Here’s what you’ll notice:

  • Need a particular setting? We’ve added a search function to the top right corner; 
  • Some menu options are reorganized and renamed - so finding what you need is straightforward;
  • Lesser used settings are out of the way in the ‘Classic Options’ tab:
  • Layout and navigation of a number of pages has been revamped for ease of use.

Better usability for mobile devices

Creating mobile experiences that are even more responsive across all devices is important to us, and something we wanted to focus on. As part of this upgrade, we’ve adapted web content to different sized screens, so that the SmartSimple interface looks great on smartphones and tablets.


Quicker way to update custom fields 

It’s now quicker and easier for system administrators to configure and update custom fields. Rather than navigating to various settings pages, administrators can now update field configuration in a new ‘Configuration Mode’ when viewing a record. This means there is no longer the need to find which field to update in the custom field list. Configuration Mode also provides shortcuts to major settings pages, so administrators can easily flip between making configuration changes to testing them.

New Syntax Checker tool (in Beta)

The introduction of a Syntax Checker tool enables system administrators to easily test the resolution of variable syntax on a record. An option for using the tool can also be found when viewing a record in Configuration Mode (detailed above).

Making shortcuts work for you 

Do you or your users rely on shortcuts to find what you need faster? Look out for three new upgrades that improve navigation and offer an even better user experience:
  • Instead of a single section for all your shortcuts, you can now configure and tailor individual shortcuts in any portal section - meaning you only see the ones you use most;
  • Give your portal a new look by assigning each shortcut an icon from a library of eye-catching symbol options;
  • Connect a shortcut to a list view to display aggregate figures and bring your data to life in dashboards.

Split-screen functionality

Need to review two documents simultaneously? Our new split-screen functionality means you can view two applications (parent and child record) side-by-side, without having to manually move and resize windows. It’s particularly useful for reviewing grant applications and assessing case files.

Screen sharing technology (in Beta)

The introduction of screen sharing technology means that system content can now be shared in real-time with others. Use the feature to collaborate on a case file, guide your applicants through an application, or when you require assistance from our Technical Support team.

Fast, new way to download multiple files

Downloading more than one file attachment directly from a Level 1 or Level 2 list view is now quicker and easier than ever before with a new group download feature for multiple records. Once downloaded, attachments can then be accessed anywhere, anytime.


Advanced security setting

While SmartSimple adheres to the most respected security standards in the industry, we’re always looking for ways to offer our clients added security options tailored to their specific needs. Our new Enhanced Security Mode is an advanced feature that when enabled, will automatically set and lock security settings throughout your system, and configure the highest level of protection available.

Who is it useful for?
Recommended for organizations with stringent security compliance (i.e. government agencies).

Important to note:
Enabling the Enhanced Security Mode will disable a number of system features. Please speak with one of our Technical Account Advisors in the first instance for more information.

Upgrade release notes

A glossary of upgrade features and enhancements, including additional notes for system administrators, is available on the SmartSimple Wiki.

Q&A Sessions - May Upgrade

Tuesday, May 30, 2:00 PM EST
Thursday, June 1, 10:00 AM EST

Join Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience, for a Q&A session that’s specifically designed to guide you through each new upgrade feature and enhancement, answer your questions, and help you make the most of your system.

Register here

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

The best learning is shared: round-up on Block Party Toronto

Our clients told us they wanted to learn from other users - we listened.

Over thirty SmartSimple clients, including leading global employers, government, arts funding agencies and foundations, met in Toronto last month for the first in a new series of Block Party client events.

Left-right: Ana Mijatovic, RBC; Trisha Zeller, UnitedHealth Group;
Megan DuPont, 
Citigroup and Cameron McLean, President, SmartSimple
Launched as a four-stop roadshow across the US & Canada, this user-led initiative puts a focus on ‘learning from each other’, and comes in response to client feedback requesting more opportunities to share best practice.

At each Block Party event, clients in the SmartSimple community will gain insight into how others configure their platform to meet their unique process needs, and discover how SmartSimple's functionality can be used in different ways.  
The busy day of learning at Block Party Toronto was structured around two key parts. A demo presentation delivered by Jen Carter, Manager of Policy & Strategic Issues at City of London (Ontario), gave an up-close look at how their solution is configured around their grants processes.

Jen Carter, City of London
This was followed by a program of shared-learning sessions, facilitated by a team of SmartSimple experts. Each session focused on a specific technical area, and encouraged participants to exchange their views and experiences of the platform’s features and functionality.

Missed Block Party Toronto?

Alex Wong, Director of Marketing, SmartSimple

The Block Party roadshow comes to Chicago on Thursday, June 15. Find out more and register here.

Alternatively, visit our events page to view the Block Party schedule in full.

Here’s some of the feedback we’ve had in from attendees:

“Overall, it was a great educational and networking event for the users. Thank you very much for organizing it. I'm already looking forward to Block Party Toronto in 2018.”

“Block Party Toronto was beyond valuable in bouncing thoughts past other SmartSimple users, both new and experienced, as well as driving discussion on what has worked, and reviewing opportunities to enhance our configuration.”

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Meet Arjun: get to know the experts behind SmartSimple

SmartSimple’s Community Support Center provides global system support to 66,000 monthly users across 192 countries. Arjun Hiranandani, Technical Account Advisor, explains the role of technical support and what it means for our clients.

Arjun Hiranandani, Technical Account Advisor, SmartSimple
Describe your role  

I’m a Technical Account Advisor within the Community Support Center, based here in our Toronto office. I’m one of 10 advisors who look after close to 2,250 client requests every month, resolving 87% of requests in full. Our biggest priority is doing everything we can to exceed our clients’ expectations, giving them the care and attention that SmartSimple is known for. It’s one reason why our client retention rate is at 97%.

In this role, having a real passion for quality client care is a must. And, it’s not down to good luck that for two-years running, our clients have given us a satisfaction rating of 8.5 (scored out of 10).

How do you ensure the best service for SmartSimple clients?

We’re always here for our clients, whenever they need us. If any of our 250+ clients around the world have a request or need something sorted out, our in-house system support team are available over the phone, by email, online chat, in-system chat and a critical care line that’s monitored 24/7/365. So - no matter what, when or where, someone is always listening.

What is Premium Support Services?

Many of our clients have complex needs that require a bit more help from us. Premium Support Services offers an extra level of service in that each client has their own Dedicated Support Representative. Clients can also discuss anything related to their system’s functionality and configuration during monthly calls with Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience. Over the last 12-months, the service has grown in popularity, and today, it's relied on by more than 30 of our clients.

What's the best thing about your job, and what’s the greatest challenge?

Being able to turn clients’ requests into a positive IT experience is the best thing about my job.

In terms of challenges, the Community Support Center is fast-paced, and every day brings something new. What's important, is bringing the right attitude to each new challenge.

What happens with client feedback?

Feedback is really important in helping us get a better understanding of how our clients feel about their support experience. We work closely with colleagues across the business to review feedback and find out how we can adapt to bring about improvements, so we continue to deliver the best service possible.

In your spare time?

I head to the beach for walks on weekends. I’m also a self-confessed foodie, and take every chance to travel, just to try new food! Playing and watching soccer is always a big part of my week - I’m a die hard fan of the UK club, Manchester United.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Why grantmakers should embrace the power of predictive analytics

Predictive analytics is used to calculate your insurance rates. It even tells retailers how to design their stores. Whether you realize it or not, the uses for predictive analytics aren’t only expanding but becoming more and more ingrained in our daily lives. The world of grants management is no different.
Tim Daciuk, Director, Predictive Analytics

What is Predictive Analytics?

The term “predictive analytics” means different things to different people depending on the context. So what does it mean for grantmakers?

Basically, predictive analytics takes historical information and combines it with data science and math to comment on future events. For granters, that makes it the ideal tool to leverage in order to increase the impact of funding and improve outcomes. How? By using prediction and segmentation.


Forecasting outcomes is an important part of what predictive analytics does. By looking at your past granting activities, it can help you make better-informed funding decisions in the future.

Let’s suppose you’re unsure that the $500,000 you allot in annual granting for animal rescue group support across your region is being used effectively. By creating a predictive analytics model, you can see how funds were used, and evaluate if you should commit more funding or less, or create different criteria for the grants you offer.


Simply put, segmentation is the ability to group people, places, or things that have common traits, like applicants, donors, or funding sources (government support, endowments, etc.). For example, applicants seeking grants to improve primary education could be one segment. Those seeking grants to improve middle school education would be another, and so on.
Read more about the challenge of extracting data from text, what the next steps are for granters exploring predictive analytics, and information on an upcoming series of webinars with Tim Daciuk, Director, Data Analytics at SmartSimple on the Peak Grantmaking blog.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Hello Hollywood - update on PEAK Grantmaking (formerly GMN) Annual Conference

SmartSimple took to the skies and followed a warmer jet stream down to Hollywood, CA, last week to attend the much anticipated GMN (Grants Managers Network) Annual Conference (March 20-22).

The three-day event is one of the biggest gatherings for grantmakers, and a key event in SmartSimple’s calendar.

This was our 6th year there, and as always, it was a valuable opportunity to catch up with grants managers and CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) professionals from across the country, and share the unique benefits of our grants management solutions.

The highlight was a SmartSimple-led seminar on Predictive Analytics, delivered by guest presenter, John McConnell, Founder of Analytical People​. Based in London (England), Analytical People has helped businesses and organizations to interpret data intelligence for over 20 years.
Our time in Hollywood came to a wrap with a networking reception, co-hosted with our partners at The Innovation Network, a nonprofit evaluation and research firm who work closely with the voluntary sector.

Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience at SmartSimple comments:

"GMN’s Annual Conference is a fantastic opportunity to spend time with grantmakers and listen to their evolving needs. Sharing information on what to watch out for when choosing a grants management system is an important part of discussions. For us as technology experts, the conference gives crucial insight into the opportunities and challenges within granting - as we strive to push the limits on some of the biggest process hurdles facing our clients. Sincere thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat with us!"  

Interested in learning more about our grants management solutions?
Contact us to schedule a demo that’s tailored around your granting needs.

Call  866.239.0991 (toll-free)

Read what our clients say about us
Feeding America, the largest domestic hunger relief organization in the U.S., looked to SmartSimple in 2014 to help track, manage and report across multiple grants programs, and give true understanding into the impact of their funding efforts. Find out what they have to say about us here

Friday, March 17, 2017

SmartSimple exhibits at ACCP Annual Conference

SmartSimple representatives made the trip to San Antonio, Texas earlier this week to exhibit at the ACCP (Association of Corporate Contributions Professionals) Annual Conference (March 12-15).

The three-day gathering brings together CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility) professionals from across the U.S., to discuss CSR strategy and the value of corporate giving.

It was our first time attending the conference, and it proved to be a valuable opportunity to meet with CSR Executives working in the private sector. We took the opportunity to share a sneak peek at CSR360°, our end-to-end CSR management solution.

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to chat with us. To find out more about how CSR360° makes it easy to track and report on the full spectrum of CSR activities, join us at one of our upcoming demo webinars to see the full solution in action. Click here to register.

Call  866.239.0991 (toll-free)

Pictured above: Laura, Peter, Gary & Todd from SmartSimple  

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Celebrating SmartSimple women on International Women's Day

The theme of this year's International Women's Day is “Be Bold For Change”. It's a message intended to push people toward concrete action on gender equality. Here are the career stories of five SmartSimple women. 

#BeBoldForChange #IWD2017

Dr. Teresa Clarke
Director of Research Solutions

As Director of Research Solutions, I work with some incredible women in research funding organizations from around the world. From an early stage, I made clear choices to follow a career in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics). Having graduated in Biochemistry, I completed a PhD in structural biology, followed by an post-doctoral position in a leading pharma firm. You can’t know that you will have a successful career among the twists and turns, but if you set goals and remain flexible to take advantage of every opportunity, it will work out. Doing just that is probably what led to my promotion to the post of Senior Scientist, followed by a leadership role as Director of Research Programs. As a client of SmartSimple, I became something of a ‘superuser’ and when the opportunity arose to join the SmartSimple team, I decided it was time to explore new possibilities. 

In North America, there are many efforts to increase the number of women in STEM. This has resulted in good progress in establishing gender equality in STEM careers and an overall more positive culture shift. Although often the only woman in the room, rarely have I encountered barriers in my career. Not everyone has had the same positive experience, so continued education and change for gender balance and inclusivity is necessary.

Lijun Wu
Bilingual Technical Community Support

Technology colors every industry sector, which is why I made the decision to study Computer Science in college. At SmartSimple, I’m privileged to enjoy work and learn new things every day alongside many other talented women. The tech sector is constantly evolving and requires new knowledge, which encourages me to keep on developing my skills. With the support of others, I’m excited not only to build networks with the clients I support, but also increase my technical expertise. That support will be crucial to elevating my career in the long-term. 

Madhulika Sharma 
Director of Community Support

When I moved to Canada over 10 years ago, I aspired to apply my skills in a client-facing role. From early on, I was clear about my career ambitions, while remaining committed to my first priority – being a mum to my two beautiful children. I started out by working my way up in a Support Services Center, and later joined SmartSimple as Support & Training Specialist. In 2016, I was promoted to Director for Community Support and today, I manage a team of 12 and oversee our support offering to our 250+ clients globally. As women rise through the ranks, it’s important to be supportive of one another – not just cheering the accomplishments, but having the courage to offer constructive feedback so everyone rises together. As we make life decisions as women, we may learn that some of those decisions were wrong, but learning from mistakes allows us to become stronger and more resilient.

Sharon Courtney 
Product Business Analyst

I made the move to Toronto back in 2014, having worked in the finance and game design industry in Ireland, when there were times I was made aware of my gender. From starting out in implementation at SmartSimple, I recently made a lateral move into the product team and am fortunate to have benefitted from great learning opportunities and the support of mentors. On a world scale, you don’t have to look far to see there’s a lot more progress needed to achieve true gender equality, particularly in education and self-selection. 

Shivani Shah
Senior Business Analyst

When I consider my career with SmartSimple, the word that comes to mind is “diverse”. I first joined SmartSimple as a Java Developer and later made a lateral move to the post of Business Analyst. A graduate in engineering, I began my career as a Software Engineer and went on to complete an MBA. I’ve always had my sights set on a career in tech, and thrive on the challenge of thinking analytically, logically and taking design solutions into considerations. I consider myself fortunate to be living in an age and a country that offers women the opportunity to work in any industry we choose and celebrates our endeavors. 

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

SmartSimple February 2017 Upgrade Highlights

Our Development team has been busy upgrading our platform so that our users have access to even more enhancements and new features.

Our first upgrade of 2017 sees us focusing heavily on the continued evolution of the platform user interface (UI). We’ve made a number of changes to the List and Object Views that will improve usability, and make it easier and more intuitive to navigate.

We’ve also released the next series of enhancements to our exciting new Media Library feature, and added to our platform’s Data Exchange functionality with OData support.

User Interface (UI) Enhancements

Clean List Views and Object Views

We’ve applied a simpler, cleaner look to the List and Object Views to help make navigation more efficient and effective. For those who work in the platform regularly, the first thing you’ll notice is that we’ve shifted a couple of buttons and menus over to the right side of the screen. The Search bar, is now on the right of the screen while the View menu is up in the right-hand corner of the screen. We’ve also moved the List View button down below the tab.

Individual columns in List Views can now be alphabetically sorted with a simple click. Click on column headers to sort by ascending, descending, and back to default.

Efficient Advanced Search options 

You can now edit filters and save your advanced searches faster and directly on the page. In the past when users clicked Advanced Search, it popped up as lightbox that covered the entire view. We’ve now made Advanced Search options appear intuitively underneath the search field.  Add your discrete search criteria quicker and with less interruption than before. 

Enhanced File Uploading

Users will now see only one button which will be used for uploading single and multiple files. Users used to see two file upload buttons, one for uploading single files and one for uploading multiple files. While the change may appear trivial, it’s all a part of SmartSimple’s objective to simplify and deliver a cleaner user interface. 

New Features

Media Library List Views for Custom Field Types

The SmartSimple Media Library, which we introduced in our last upgrade, gets an exciting new feature: list views for custom field types. As the name suggests, users can now create List Views with custom fields, enabling them to build filtered searches that can be saved. 

For example, an arts-funding organization can filter its Media Library for reviewers to only see works of art that are in video format, from a specific geographic area, and are created by artists whose annual income is under a specific threshold. 

Now offering OData support

OData provides clients with the ability to publish their data direct to their communities. With OData support, users are now able to embed data into a Microsoft Excel document so that every time they open up the report, the data is automatically updated with the latest data. This tool will help Foundations save time when reporting outcomes on donor-advised funds.

Learn More on our SmartSimple Wiki 

Stay up to speed on everything you need to know about the February 2017 Upgrade by checking in on our SmartSimple Wiki

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

1 year-in: SmartSimple’s Premium Support team deliver 12 months of dedicated care

It doesn't take much to maintain a partnership when things are going well – but will your solutions provider be there to give you the support you need after they hit the ‘go-live’ button?   

Any good company will listen to their clients and be there for them when things get bumpy, or when their needs change over time.

Our clients were giving us feedback that they wanted a dedicated, flexible support service that provided them with one main point of contact. We listened to what our clients were telling us, and in response launched SmartSimple’s Premium Support Services back in January of last year.

So what is Premium Support?

Premium Support Services is designed to meet the unique and immediate needs of our clients around the world, and their communities.

Biggest benefits of the service?

Every client who joins the service is assigned a Dedicated Support Representative, meaning one point of contact for all their support requests. Our team of representatives have an in-depth working knowledge of their client’s specific system and are on standby from 5AM - 9PM EST, alongside a 24/7 critical support line.

As part of the service, clients can also take advantage of monthly calls with Eric Lauer, Director of Customer Experience, to review system functionality and configuration, and discuss any added training that might be of value.

Over the past 12 months, our team of in-house Dedicated Support Representatives have brought the benefits of Premium Support Services to almost 30 SmartSimple clients across the globe.

Madhulika Sharma, Director of Community Support
Madhulika Sharma, Director of Community Support, envisions even more adoption of Premium Support Services:

"Clients sign up to Premium Support Services because their business needs require fast, convenient assistance. We’ve seen overwhelming demand for the service since it launched last January, and just this quarter, 4 more clients are coming on-board. As the number of clients joining Premium Support Services grows, so will our team - it's all part of our commitment to delivering unrivaled client care, without compromise."

Learn more about Premium Support Services here.

Already a client and want to join up? Please speak with your SmartSimple Account Manager.

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

New office space underway at SmartSimple Toronto

It’s been a bustling few weeks at SmartSimple HQ as we’ve been expanding our existing office space to make room for our fast growing teams.

SmartSimple headquarters employs over 70 people working across 6 business units. This rapid level of growth in our headcount over recent months is testament to the fact that we continue to deliver some of the most advanced process solutions available today.

SmartSimple's latest intake of new joiners

With almost half of the 4th floor at 111 Peter Street now to our name, great views of the CN Tower isn’t the only good thing to come from weeks of construction. 

Increasingly, we’re seeing more leading multinationals look to us to deliver process solutions that are fit to manage their unique corporate giving needs. In the past year alone, we’ve taken on some of the most complex process challenges facing global businesses.

These include: advising The Coca-Cola Foundation on a granting solution to manage the 6,000 applications they receive each year globally, and track annual foundation giving worth USD $80 million; working with Blue Cross Blue Shield Minnesota on a corporate giving platform that’s significantly cut administration time, freeing up days’ worth of work.

Cameron McLean, SmartSimple President, comments on the recent expansion saying:

"It’s been a hectic few weeks, but we’re pleased we finally got there. Investing in our people and growing our teams is our way of ensuring we deliver the same personalized, unrivaled client care that we're known for. It's a hallmark of our promise to the clients we serve."

About SmartSimple 

Over 250 clients in more than 192 countries use SmartSimple to create greater efficiencies in their processes - including seven of the Fortune 100, state agencies across seven states and some of the largest federal agencies in the U.S.

To discover more about our vision for the future, read this short interview with Mike & Keith, SmartSimple Co-Founders.